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He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye | Shmaltz Brewing Company

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142 Reviews
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He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On RyeHe'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye

Brewed by:
Shmaltz Brewing Company
New York, United States | website

Style: American Double / Imperial IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Imperial Rye IPA aged in a Rittenhouse 100 Rye Barrel.
The 2013 batch was aged in Willett Rye Whiskey barrels. 2016 batch aged in Jim Bean Rye Whiskey barrels.

Added by John_M on 12-20-2007

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Reviews: 142 | Ratings: 360
Photo of rudzud
3.78/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled back on 8/10. Generally I avoid IPA's that are that old (8 months) but I didnt notice the date at the time I purchased from Julio's. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a dark, rich deep copper colour with two rich off white fingers of head that slowly fades leaving a nice white cloud and average side lacing. Impressive for this style and ABV.

S - Big on the bourbon barrel aging qualities here. Lots of rich bourbon with big kicks of vanilla. Getting next to nothing in the line of hops or malt though.

T - Kinda like the nose here. Big bourbon qualities up front. Rich oaks and vanilla and that strong ABV. Again, not much in the way for hops or malt here.

M - Not quite low carbonation here. Considering the style, and what this beer has been through the carbonation is actually quite impressive. It manages to remain dry and not sticky at all.

O - If you're not a fan of bourbon, or barrel agign then this definately isnt for you. Its a nice example of good barrel aging but unfortunately I think it completely overwhelms this DIPA.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clean amber color with a light tan head. In the aroma, oaky, bourbon, hops and hints of rye. In the taste, whiskey, oak, rye, and a mellow hop. A smooth and medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry oaky bourbon in the aftertaste. Almost too much bourbon, quite nice but a bit too boozy.

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Photo of EgadBananas
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours a slightly hazy, light copper color, with a light beige finger of head.

Whiskey aroma, with some oak, malts, hops are hard to pick out from everything else going on. Its good though.

Big booooze and whiskey, rye sweetness and twang. Bits of hops, but not much. Too intense for me, as it s like drinking a mixed drink.

Feel is creamy, slick, full, and slightly coating. Good.

Its not bad, but the strength is top much to drink loads of this.

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Photo of jewbrew
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A. Pours a translucent golden color with a nice white head that recedes in to thin lacing

S. Sweet oak, malt and bourbon right away. Faintly piney hops in the background

T. Barrel aging really rounds out the harsh piney bitterness of the original RIPA. This version is much sweeter, vanilla, bourbon and caramel dominant. Savory malt and bourbon characteristics backed up by a slightly dry and bitter piney malt backbone.

M/D. Rich and satisfying I'll drink this anytime any day.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.03/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bittersweet Lenny's On Rye, bottle bought at New Beer Distributors in Manhattan, New York.

Appearance: Served in a Sierra snifter, it produces a voluptuous white head, very frothy and bubbly, Belgian-style. Color is auburn/mahogany, transparent when held to the light, mysterious and appealing. Looks like bourbon/whiskey indeed! Retention and carbonation are both impressive, as is the lacing, so thick you could cook (or paint) with it.

Smell: Whiskey madness! Then some hops. Lots and lots of booze. Very hot, more so as it warms up. A bit of a narrow nose (booze and heat only), but nice!

Taste: I can barely tell I'm drinking a Double IPA. This is more of a British strong ale, with a very-pronounced alcoholic nose. Wood at the end of the sip, and old whiskey. Some spice and astringency/bitterness. Heavy malts, reminds me of Double Simcoe. Faint hints of vanilla and liquorice. Some sweetness, perhaps a European-style biscuit drenched in booze. Hops do come out, ever so slightly, as the beer warms up.

Mouthfeel: Sticky/chewy, dry finish. Full flavor, full body, medium-to-high carbonation. A tongue-burner!

Drinkability: This beer scores low on this aspect. Super boozy and hot. I would recommend start drinking it very cold and see it change. When it warms up, it will burn you!

I enjoyed it a lot, but I understand why many others do not appreciate this brew.

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Photo of Prospero
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a pint glass with very little head and the color a very clear copper. The nose is strong with caramel & rye malts with quite a bit of alcohol present. Slight floral notes in the aroma as well. The taste has a stong caramel almost liquorice taste which masks the hops in this beer. The aftertaste lingers on the tongue and the alcohol is very present. A little disappointing for a double IPA to have the hops masked by the rye whiskey. If you like rye whiskey and english strong ale, this is for you. It's not for me.

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Photo of mdaschaf
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to THECPJ for the share. Review from notes 11/20/10.

A: Pours a hazy, deep ruby color with a small brown head. Good retention and lacing.

S: Very malty, but you can definitely smell the wood and vanilla from the barrels. The rye is also quite present.

T: Lots of vanilla! A nice combination of wood and the whiskey flavors.

M/D: Medium bodied with good carbonation. Get a little heat from the alcohol. Overall, very enjoyable. Really liked the intense vanilla flavor. The alcohol presence knocks the drinkability down a bit.

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Photo of zhanson88
2.84/5  rDev -27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appearance: R.I.P.A. On Rye pours a thick-looking, almost sludgy copper color. It has a big, slow-forming off-white head that has good retention. Not a whole lot of carbonation is apparent.

Smell: Whew, a bunch of astringency and whiskey scents. Underneath, some caramel malt and piney hops. Definitely interesting but not real appealing.

Taste: Some spicy rye flavors, whiskey, and astringency hit the palate first, and they are strong. Underneath, caramel malts, toffee, and lighter piney hops.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Medium bodied for sure, with low carbonation that is fine. Pretty slick mouthfeel, this is one of this beer's best traits. This beer is too odd and astringent for me to find it very drinkable. It's one of the most unique beers I've had, but probably not something I'd have again.

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Photo of Jeffo
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of STEG. Cheers!

From a bomber into a snifer.

APPEARANCE: Pours a 2+ finger, medium-thick, off-white head with good retention. Sangria or maroon red, perfectly clear with medium carbonation evident. Head slowly fades to a good foam cap and clings to the sides. Splotchy wisp and a ring remain leaving dots of lacing down the glass. Good looking beer.

SMELL: Pretty big nose on this one. Pale malts, caramel and toffee notes, with some upfront whisky and vanilla notes from the barrel. Some spicy notes as well, but not much in terms of a hop presence.

TASTE: Pale malts, caramel and toffee notes, with a good dose of whisky. Spicy rye with touches of vanilla and oak, as well as a bolder alcohol presence. Spicy alcohol, rye, and some caramel sweetness make up the medium strength yet lingering aftertaste. Not much bitterness or hop flavor really, but quite a bit of spicy rye and a very present barrel.

PALATE: Medium body with higher levels of carbonation; blows up in the mouth. Very creamy on the palate, goes down very smooth and finishes slightly dry on the palate. A touch of heat after the swallow. A bit too much carbonation, but wonderfully smooth and creamy. Nice stuff.

OVERALL: I'm always torn on these barrel aged DIPAs. On the one hand they lose much of the hop presence, which is the major trademark of the style, but on the other hand they often turn into wonderful American Strong Ales. Instead of knocking it for what it isn't, however, I've chosen to rate it for what it is. This is a very good, barrel heavy strong ale. Lots of rye and barrel flavors, with a solid malt backbone. An enjoyable brew I'd definitely have again. Cheers STEG.

Note: Had the 2013 version in the summer of 2015 again and it was really, really nice. Would bump the scores up even further if I were to re-review it. Great strong ale.

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Photo of ronniebruner
4.77/5  rDev +22%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow! that is all I have to say about this brew! This is easily one of the best American brews I have ever had! The ABV is really high at 10% and goes down just as smooth as a Belgian or a German would. The beer pours a lighter golden color with perfect carbonation, a decadent aroma of hops, hops, and more hops, and the taste is the same.. Hops! To me, that is a good thin, so I will be searching for more of this beer for sure!

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Photo of biboergosum
3.86/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle, a welcoming, and surprising find on the shelves of a worthy supplier of fine beers and wines to the denizens of, or in this case, visitors to, Cowtown, Alberta.

This beer pours a clear, red-tinted copper penny hue, with three fingers of puffy, thickly foamy, and rocky opal head, which leaves a seldom-broken wall of dripping tacky lace around the glass as it casually settles.

It smells of edgy, woody bourbon, doing well to top some strong, but smothered citrus and pine hops, with the underlying caramel malt still poking through, complementing the typical sweet vanilla and caramel barrel characteristics. The taste is quite heady and aggressive, with its sweet caramel and toffee malt, more woodsy, rye spice laden, and bourbon cask representin' whisky notes, some Grand Marnier orange liqueur essence, and a rather subsumed, but still worth mentioning, undercurrent of big-ass pine and floral hop bitterness.

The carbonation is indeed there, but well hidden, and softly frothy in any of its manifestations, the body hefty, full in weight, smooth, creamy, and kind of sticky. It finishes still somewhat ridiculously sweet, the bourbon barrel and base malt equally culpable - the big booze only attenuating things so much, given its plumb shy behavior up til now.

A slower drinking affair, one that I have become accustomed to with the various He'brew offerings - the astringent Kentucky barrel definitely reining things in considerably for me. Barely different from the regular RIPA to make me appreciative of the delta, and drinkable as the boozy, dense nature can allow. Neat, but still somewhat lacking in its attempt at further uniqueness compared to the 'base' beer, and losing significant points for the obfuscation of the standard big IPA hops.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 01/02/11 notes. Brought to a local tasting by nimbleprop; thanks Mac. 22 oz. bottle.

a - Pours an amber color with high carbonation evident and frothy white head.

s - Smells of rye, oak, wheat, bourbon, caramel malts, and light fruit.

t - Tastes of rye, caramel malts, dark fruits, bourbon, and oak.

m - Medium body and moderate carbonation.

d - A very nice barrel aged beer. Lots of nice oak and bourbon in the smell, I reall liked this one. Would like to have again.

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Photo of BigBossMan
4.39/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This really is a completely different beer than the original. The hops are still evident but in more of a supporting role - similar to how hops are present in some hoppy imperial stouts but somewhat masked by the malts. In this beer, the hops are masked by the forward flavors of bourbon and smoke.

The appearance is lighter than I would have expected, while the head is more than I would have guessed - good lacing. The smell is of bourbon, but sweet caramel is present. The flavor is bourbon and hops - very smooth and drinkable for what it is.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.54/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

"I won't say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: what I'm going to be if I grow up."

--Lenny Bruce

Polished persimmon with an infusion of pomegranate juice. Four full fingers of foam were produced on the pour and overflowed the glass, despite my frantic attempts to corral it. Once it finally fades, the whipped marshmallow creamy cap blankets the drinking vessel with loads of lace.

Barrel-aged or not, an American DIPA needs to be more hoppy than this. Especially since this brew hasn't even reached its 4 month anniversary yet. The same problem is present in the standard Bittersweet Lenny's, but it seems even worse here. Rye whiskey is front and center, which means the brewers must have used some pretty leaky barrels.

Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye is probably best thought of as a big, bold, hoppy rye beer. In that context, it's a semi-success. The fact that a killer lineup of little green cones (Simcoe, Warrior, Cascade, Crystal, Chinook, Amarillo and Centennial) provides much more bitterness than flavor is disappointing.

If you don't enjoy the earthy spicy power of rye whiskey, then steer clear of this brew because it dominates a flavor profile that also includes sticky toffee pudding and orange peel macerated in Stolichnaya. A 10.0% ABV this soon after bottling can only be masked so well. This stuff will definitely warm your cockles.

The mouthfeel with be a treat for those of you who like full, lush, lip-sticky American big beer. Somewhat shy bubbles that still provide plenty of creaminess are just what the doctor ordered.

In the final reckoning, aging Bittersweet Lenny's in Sazerac Rye Whiskey barrels doesn't transform it into something amazing, but it does add another flavor element to a better than decent big beer. I'm still disappointed by the lack of hop flavor in both of these He'Brew brews.

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Photo of joepais
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

To sum this brew up I go with a mutt on steroids'. To me it was not really one style or another. I liked it but I was wishing for a little more of the rye whisky showing up in the brew. I split the bottle with a couple of friends and poured it into pint glasses. We were greeted with a two finger cream colored head that laced out wonderfully. The body of the brew was amber brown in color.

The nose was rye all the way but again not as much of the barrel as I would like came thru. I did get some nice spice and light vanilla notes. The flavor was caramel and sweet along with some nice spice and a slight barrel flavor. It had a medium feel to it with good carbonation.
I would drink it again. It had a little to much alcohol in it to drink a few of but I know I will grab it again.

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Photo of IronDjinn
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From a 650 ml brown bottle. From the start I must state my apprehensions of both barrel aging any sort of hoppy beer (counterproductive for the most part), and any use of rye barrels since rye is such an inferior spirit to begin with. But let's give it a shot...

Pours out a bright clear red/amber hue, tall creamy off-white head. If nothing else it looks great!

Sweet, sharp, woody rye character pierces all else in the aroma at first, beneath lies some rich bready toffee malt, mild earthy notes, and herbal hop character.

As has been done before in this realm, the hops immediately fight with the flavours from the barrel, and it's a clusterfuck from then on. The sweet booziness from the rye kicks in first, earthiness from the rye grains and wood surface in the middle and make an appreciated appearance, only to be drowned out with the booziness from the rye creating a cacophany with the aggressive presence of herbal and citrus hops. Finer spirits have come before in this sort of match up and failed miserably, the rye never stood a chance in this instance....

A fair amount of ambivalence carrying over in the mouthfeel as well, which does not benefit the overall delivery. Full mouthfeel, that starts out sticky and develops a contrasting astringency. Carbonation is low but but everything is pretty full otherwise, but lacks cohesion overall.

He'Brew is capable of putting out some pretty amazing beers, and does not shy away from experimentation, and I will always give them props for that in general. Yet this rye barrel aged RIPA is no better than their regular version of it, in fact it tends to detract, so while I still salute the effort I cannot commend the final product. They claim on the label that they will try other combinations, but I hope they figure out sooner than later than any hoppy barrel-aged beer is more than likely to fail based on the basic combination. Also, like I said before, rye whiskey is always an inferior choice and a waste of time....

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Photo of psuKinger
2.48/5  rDev -36.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Thanks to jchow79 for sending me this 22 ounce bomber via trade, the label reads as if this may have very limited release/availability. I'm relatively inexperienced in the world of "rye beer", but I'm excited to give this guy a try.

A: Beautiful pour. Large, lively 2-finger head sits on top of a deep hazy orange brew.

S: Earthy hops and rye malts dominate the nose. Also a hint of citra hops.

T: Wow, a unique blend of a hoppy-IPA mixed with a loaf of rye bread. The malts speak first, here, as the initial taste is sweetness, but the hops quickly move and the flavor turns warm and bitter. A mild citrus hops flavor, as detected in the nose, is present in the middle, and slowly gives way to a dominant rye finish.

M: Light and bubbly in the mouth, which gives way to some hop tongue-coating as it finishes.

D: This has a lot of flavor, just not flavors that I personally care for. I love IPA's, but I've never really been a fan of "Rye", and it just doesn't work for me here, either. Still enjoyed trying it, this just wasn't for me. I would not seek this out again.

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Photo of MoreThanWine
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had enormous expectations on this beer because Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels is so far my favorite style of beer and in this case they aged in Rye Whiskey barrels, Rye being a particularly interesting and flavorful whiskey.

Poured a massive head which slowly dropped to 1". Amber color with lots of tiny tiny bubbles slowly rising, kind of like a thick barleywine. Smells like bourbon but milder. Vanillan is far less pronounced in the rye influence than in bourbon influence. Plus the whole thing is markedly more bitter.

An interesting beer but nowhere near as amazing as my expectations. Nonetheless I'd love to see more experiments with aging beers in various liquor and wine barrels.

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Photo of firkinhophead
4.31/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottled on 4/9/10. Balked a bit at the price (can't remember, but more than $10 for a 22-oz bomber), but definitely worth it.

Pours a beautiful, crystal-clear chestnut brown with a creamy off-white head that settles to some spotty lacing. The slow-rising cascade of bubbles foreshadows the thick body of the beer.

Toffee, brown sugar, and mace in the nose. A bit of alcohol sweetness and some resiny wood. The whiskey notes rise up as it warms.

Nice balance of caramel malts, rye spice, and whiskey-soaked citrus. The Amarillo and Simcoe really bring out a Grand Marnier-like orange base, with the various malts providing solid backup. Big toffee foundation that holds a coffee, herbal bitterness on the tongue.

Thick and mouth-coating, but not cloying, although hardcore hopheads might find it so. I love that He'Brew does not forget the malt side of the beer equation. This drinks like a good brandy--warming and sweet with a bracing bite in the finish. Good carbonation level. Smooth, but not really buttery or velvety, but not to be expected considering the rye. Call it a velvet hammer.

Drank the entire bomber without tiring of it, and in fact was sad to see it go. Perfect for a chilly winter night. Lots of new flavors peek through as it warms.

RIPA is one of my favorites and this just takes it to a Ho. Nutha. Level. Fantastic. I don't think these guys get the credit they deserve sometimes. Viva la malt!

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Really deep copper color with a touch of red highlights. A half finger of white head with good head retention and lacing. Not bad looking for a barrel aged IPA.

S: The nose is a mix of spiciness from the rye and just a touch of hops. The barrel really brings out the best part of the pre barrel aged beer. Not an explosive nose but really nice.

T: The mix of spiciness from the rye base beer and the barrel and the hops is outstanding. The base beer is not super hoppy itself so it really lends itself to this kind of thing. It is not complex but it is wonderful. This should really be changed to a rye beer as this is not a DIPA. As it warms more of the barrel comes out.

M: Medium body. A little bit syrupy. Carbonation is good.

D: I love this beer. Bottled April of 2010 469 cases and they should have made more. This is the second time I have had this beer and it impressed me more this time. Just a really nice treat.

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Photo of Fatehunter
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Poured out of a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass. Copper, almost transparent with a nice inch and a half of dirty white head.

S - A lot going on here: toffee, honeysuckle, brown sugar and charred maple-wood.

T - Spicy, slight hop bitterness, wood and alcohol.

M - Medium body but kind of soft too. Light carbonation.

D - Very good. The 10% ABV is hidden very well. It is very smooth. Probably one of the best barrel aged beers I have had. It has a great balance; meaning it isn't obscenely sweet.

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Photo of TheSeeker61
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap @ the Porter beer bar in Atlanta.

Had a very nice two finger head & looked very sexy in the tulip glass. Kind of amber in color.

The nose was very comforting. The raisin, toffee, vanilla aromas took me back to secure winter moments. Very nice.

Immediately tasted the bourbon toffee raisin in the front and a slight bitter in the finish. There was warmth in the chest right in the middle. I really enjoyed the complex taste of this one.

The mouthfeel was somewhat thick as the brew kinda hung on the tongue after going down.

Would definitely drink this one again. With the high ABV definitely a sipper. Gets better as it warms.

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Photo of massshortage
4.49/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Having never tried the original R.I.P.A. I didn't know what to expect. In fact, having little experience with rye beer in general, and the brewer, made this one all the more exceptional for me.

Looked sexy in a snifter, dark amber/brown with a creamy foam. Sticky and lacy.

The smell! It made me dream of sitting in front of a fireplace while it snows outside, the scent was so warm and inviting. Like sweet fruit and candy with a bourbon burn. I had to just warm this in my hands and sniff a while...

Most of the typical IPA hop flavor is gone with the sweetness of the rye and the bourbon, though the bitterness still comes through in the finish, after the whiskey burn. Very complex and full bodied. The rye and bourbon hits very strong up front, then coats the tongue with a pleasant sweetness (toffee, maybe vanilla) that sticks in your mouth after each sip. Definitely picks up more flavor as it warms. It is one for savoring.

This is a powerful beer. It doesn't necessarily feel like an exceptionally high ABV level (which it is), but for me it was a slow drinking beer. Though I loved every moment of it, I'd say this is one for sharing; I didn't feel any particular desire to finish a whole bottle myself.

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Photo of JizackFH
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a nice dark amber color that had a small head that left nice lacing as it fell.

S - There is a definite alcohol/bourbon smell that stands out. There is also a nice presence of hops and some caramel sweetness.

T - Right up front is the booze. A lot of hops follow up the booze taste. There are also nice sweet notes like caramel and vanilla. The finish is bitter and it sticks to your mouth for quite a while.

M - The mouthfeel was medium, but more on the heavier side of medium. Nice carbonation. Also, it is a little warming on the mouth.

D - I think this beer is surprisingly drinkable. I went through a bomber of this faster than I expected to. I would definitely pick this beer up again. Its very good for cold nights. They did a good job on this brew. Cheers.

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Photo of jfmorey
4.11/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Batch/Cases: 001/469 bottled 4/9/2010
Consumed 11/01/10

[ I was planning to cellar this for some time; with no special occasion on the horizon, decided that the wait was over.)

Pours a very pretty ruby color with plenty of creamy head that disappeared to good lacing.

The smell is sweet, fruity, but not unpleasantly so.

The taste is a well-balanced combination of all those rye malts with the equally complex hops; living up to the bittersweet name.

Can a beer this intense be called drinkable? Yes

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He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's R.I.P.A. On Rye from Shmaltz Brewing Company
88 out of 100 based on 142 ratings.